Saturday, December 8, 2012

2224.4 Preliminary Investigations (Administrative Closure)

2224.4 Preliminary Investigations (Administrative Closure)
CPS September 2002

Preliminary investigations are investigations that are closed administratively. CPS closes cases administratively:

  •  For statutory reasons: See Item 2224.41;

  •  For programmatic reasons: See Item 2224.42; or

  •  Because the report was made anonymously and corroborating evidence was not found: See Item 2224.43.

A supervisor and program director must approve administrative closures of investigations.
2224.41 Preliminary Investigations Closed for Statutory Reasons

CPS September 2002

A preliminary investigation that is closed administratively for statutory reasons is conducted when a non-CPS entity has statutory jurisdiction for investigating the report, rather than CPS. This occurs in the following circumstances:

  •  Law enforcement has jurisdiction because the alleged perpetrator is a person not responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the child (under Texas Family Code (TFC) §261.301(c)External Link). See Item 2150, Notification to Law Enforcement.

  •  Law enforcement has jurisdiction because the alleged victim was not born alive, and other children in the home were not alleged to have been abused, neglected, or at risk of abuse or neglect.

  •  The DFPS licensing program or APS program (for an MHMR facility investigation) has jurisdiction of the case under TFC §261.401External Link, CPS Investigations of Abuse or Neglect in Certain Facilities, and policy.

  •  A non-DFPS state agency has jurisdiction of the case under TFC §261.401External Link, Investigations of Abuse or Neglect in Certain Facilities or other state or federal law. Such agencies include the Texas Department of Health, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, the Texas Rehabilitation Commission, the Texas Department of Human Services, the Texas School for the Blind, the Texas School for the Deaf, and the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. See Item 2700, Intake and Investigation in Facilities Under the Authority of Other State Agencies.

  •  An out-of-state child protection or law enforcement agency has jurisdiction because the abuse or neglect occurred in that state and the family (now living in Texas) is not alleged to be at risk of future abuse or neglect. See Item 2380, Out-of-State Incident and Perpetrators.

When CPS does not have statutory jurisdiction of the case, the investigation worker must recommend the case be closed administratively. See Section 2420, CPS Authority for Investigating Reports of Abuse or Neglect.

The investigation worker may determine that CPS does not have jurisdiction of a case at the following times in the life of the case:

  •  at the onset of an investigation when initial actions indicate that CPS does not have case jurisdiction of the report.

      For example, the investigation worker's first contact is with the reporter. The worker learns that the alleged perpetrator was a neighbor, and the reporter has no concerns about the parent's supervision of the child. In this instance, the worker would tell law enforcement about this new information and that CPS is closing the investigation;

  •  during an investigation, when ensuing investigatory actions indicate the same outcome.

      For example, after investigating a newborn's death from alleged abuse, the autopsy concludes that the child was not born alive. If there is no risk to other children in the home, the worker would recommend closure of the case when he or she learns that the infant was not born alive.

Required Case Actions for Preliminary Investigations Closed for Statutory Reasons

During any steps the worker may take to determine what entity has jurisdiction of the case, the worker must be aware of indications that the child may not be safe. If workers are concerned about the safety of any child in the home but lack statutory jurisdiction to intervene, they must immediately notify the police or other entity that has jurisdiction.

The worker must communicate directly with the entity that has jurisdiction of the report to ensure that the entity is aware of the report and that CPS does not plan to take any further action on the report.

The worker is not required to complete a risk and safety assessment in the investigation or conduct criminal background checks on alleged perpetrators in the report.

Completing Preliminary Investigations Closed for Statutory Reasons

When the worker completes a preliminary investigation and recommends administrative closure for statutory reasons, he or she must:

  •  finalize the allegations (with the disposition of "administrative closure"). See Item 2271, Definitions of the Dispositions of Abuse or Neglect; Item 2284.12, Completing the Maintain Allegation Task; and Appendix 2224-B, Dispositions and Risk Findings Appropriate to the Types of Investigations;

  •  document the investigation by:

  •  ensuring that "person" information is correct. See Item 2281.1, Completing the Maintain Person Task;

  •  documenting the actions taken and decisions made in the preliminary investigation in the structured narrative and complete other required documentation. See Item 2284.14, Intranet Risk Assessment Narrative Task; and

  •  document the risk finding of "risk assessment not applicable." See Item 2284.22, Documenting the Risk Finding of "Risk Assessment Not Applicable"; and Appendix 2224-B, Dispositions and Risk Findings Appropriate to the Types of Investigations.

Exception to Notification Procedure

In regard to notifying the appropriate persons of the results of an investigation that is closed administratively for statutory reasons: "DFPS must not provide required notifications & about findings to parents and guardian if a . . . CPS investigation is being closed administratively because the report was referred for investigation to another authorized entity, such as law enforcement or another state agency."

Item 2273.14, Exceptions to Providing Notification

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.513External Link(d)(4)
2224.42 Preliminary Investigations Closed for Programmatic Reasons

CPS September 2002

Note: Staff should be cautious about conducting a preliminary investigation and closing it administratively for programmatic reasons when indications exist that the case may be serious. See Appendix 2224-A, "Seriousness" Indicators in Thorough Investigations.

The investigation worker may recommend that a preliminary investigation be closed administratively for programmatic reasons when one of the following conditions is met:

  •  CPS has already investigated the same allegations (with the same incident, alleged victim, and alleged perpetrator). In this instance, the worker must merge the current investigation case with the prior case.

  •  As a result of new or additional information obtained from a contact about the reported situation (see Required Case Actions below), the worker makes a reasonable decision that:

  •  the person who is contacted refutes the allegations, or the situation is not within CPS authority to investigate as indicated in Item 2422, Reports Not Within CPS Authority to Investigate;

  •  the children in the family appear to be safe from abuse or neglect; or

  •  obvious indications of risk of abuse or neglect do not appear to be present in the family.

Examples

Examples of situations that are appropriate for administrative closure for programmatic reasons include but are not limited to the following:

  •  The alleged abuse or neglect occurred some time ago, and the worker's contact with a protective parent indicates that the alleged perpetrator does not and will not have continued access to the alleged victim in the foreseeable future.

  •  Worker contact with the school indicates that:

  •  the child does not have the alleged injury or circumstance or the injury or circumstance was due to an accident or other non-abuse or neglect causes;

  •  the parents are getting the necessary care for the child;

  •  the professional believes that the child's safety is not a concern and that the parents' interest in or care of the child is appropriate; and

  •  a doctor has no concerns about abuse or neglect because the injuries reported by an anonymous reporter were accidental and the parents responded appropriately.

The following describes the actions and conclusions that characterize a preliminary investigation that is closed administratively for programmatic reasons:

Required Case Actions for Preliminary Investigations Closed for Programmatic Reasons

Before closing a case for programmatic reasons the worker must:

  •  check the abuse and neglect backgrounds of every member of the family and home, unless an exception to this requirement is met. See Item 2232.1, Abuse and Neglect Background Checks;

  •  contact and interview one of the following persons:

  •  A reliable collateral who has relevant information, preferably a collateral who is a professional such as a teacher or doctor (see Item 2244, Interviews with Collateral Sources), or

  •  A reliable principal who has relevant information but is not an alleged victim or perpetrator. See Item 2243.4, Interviews with Other Adults.

In the interview, the worker must gather information about:

  •  The child's safety and condition, the alleged maltreatment, the parents' general care of the child, and indications of risk of future abuse or neglect; and

  •  The names, addresses, and other demographic, identifying, and locating information on family members to enable the worker to conduct the abuse and neglect background checks.

The worker may but is not required to conduct criminal background checks on alleged perpetrators in the report.

Conclusions in Preliminary Investigations Closed for Programmatic Reasons

Safety and Risk

The worker must conclude that the child appears safe and there are no obvious indications of risk of abuse or neglect. The worker is not required to complete a risk and safety assessment in a preliminary investigation.

Services Provided to Families

The worker may provide the reporter or family with information the family may need to obtain community services.

Completing Preliminary Investigations Closed for Programmatic Reasons

When the worker completes a preliminary investigation and recommends administrative closure for programmatic reasons, he or she must:

  •  make a reasonable effort to notify the appropriate parties of the report, interviews, and examinations of children within 24 hours of the interview, if the child was interviewed or examined during the preliminary investigation. See Item 2261, Notice of Report: Allegations, Interviews, and Examinations;

  •  finalize the allegations (with the disposition of "administrative closure"). See Item 2271, Definitions of the Dispositions of Abuse or Neglect; and Item 2284.12, Completing the Maintain Allegation Task; and Appendix 2224-B, Dispositions and Risk Findings Appropriate to the Types of Investigations;

  •  document the investigation by:

  •  ensuring "person" information is correct. See Item 2281.1, Completing the Maintain Person Task;

  •  documenting the actions taken and decisions made in the preliminary investigation in the structured narrative and complete other required documentation. See Item 2284.14, Completing the Intranet Risk Assessment Narrative Task;

  •  documenting the risk finding of "risk assessment not applicable." See Item 2284.22, Documenting Risk Finding of "Risk Assessment Not Applicable"; and Appendix 2224-B, Dispositions and Risk Findings Appropriate to the Types of Investigations;

  •  make a reasonable effort within 24 hours after investigation closure to notify the appropriate parties that the investigation was administratively closed. See Item 2273.12, Notification in Administratively Closed Investigations.
2224.43 Preliminary Investigations of Anonymous Reports

CPS September 2002

When a report of abuse or neglect is made anonymously, Texas Family Code §261.304External Link, Investigation of Anonymous Report, requires DFPS to conduct a preliminary investigation to determine whether there is any evidence to corroborate the report before conducting a thorough investigation. The statute authorizes a greater scope for these types of preliminary investigations than for those described in Item 2224.41, Preliminary Investigation Closed forv Statutory Reasons, and Item 2224.42, Preliminary Investigation Closed for Programmatic Reasons. Therefore, the policy for preliminary investigations of anonymous reports differs in many respects from other types of preliminary investigations.

In a preliminary investigation of an anonymous report, the worker must continue the investigation until the steps that are statutorily authorized for this type of investigation have been completed unless the worker can determine at an earlier point in the investigation that the child is safe and there are no reasonable expectations that further action would produce some evidence to corroborate the report.

The worker must stop the investigation as soon as he or she can reasonably determine that the child is safe and the report cannot be corroborated. The worker must also realize that if evidence corroborating the report eventually arises, the investigation must be completed as a thorough investigation. Child safety must be the paramount consideration in all decision making.

Definitions

Evidence to Corroborate Report

Evidence to corroborate the anonymous report is information the investigation worker obtains that tends to indicate that the report of abuse or neglect is accurate. Examples might include:

  •  Child tells the worker it happened

  •  Worker views the reported injury

  •  Family violence is evident

  •  Prior convictions of injury to a child exist

  •  History indicates that the family has abused or neglected children, whether the family was known to CPS or not

Thorough Investigation

A thorough investigation means the investigation described in Item 2224.1, Thorough Investigations. The worker must not conduct a thorough investigation of an anonymous report unless the worker finds some evidence to corroborate the report in a preliminary or abbreviated investigation.

Steps Involved in a Preliminary Investigation of an Anonymous Report

Three steps are involved in preliminary investigations of anonymous reports. Prior to taking these steps, however, the worker must check the abuse and neglect background of every member of the family and home, unless an exception to this requirement is met. See Item 2232.1, Abuse and Neglect Background Checks.

After these checks, the worker begins the investigation by taking either step one or two of the following three steps, as appropriate to the child's safety, the availability of persons to contact, and the results of the background checks. (The course of the preliminary investigation determines which of the steps are necessary).

Step One

The worker must:

  •  contact and interview a reliable collateral (preferably a professional such as a teacher or doctor) or principal (other than the alleged victim or perpetrator). See Item 2243.4, Interviews with Other Adults; and Item 2244, Interviews with Collateral Sources;

  •  decide either that

  •  the report is refuted and the children appear safe in the home. In this instance, go to the heading below entitled "Conclusion that Corroborating Evidence of the Report was not Obtained;"

  •  there is some evidence to corroborate the report, in which instance, the worker proceeds to complete an abbreviated or thorough investigation of the report; or

  •  he or she cannot draw either of these conclusions, in which case the worker must proceed to step two.

Step Two

The worker must:

  •  interview and examine each alleged victim; and

  •  interview at least one parent in the home. If both parents (or the only parent) in the home are alleged perpetrators, the worker must also interview a collateral with relevant information or a principal who is not an alleged victim or perpetrator;

  •  follow the decision-making process identified under step one. If the worker cannot conclude that the report is refuted or corroborated, he or she must proceed to step three.

Step Three

The worker must:

  •  visit the home (see Item 2245, Visits to the Home); and/or

  •  interview other persons the worker believes may have relevant information. Note: While the worker may interview a child in the home who is not an alleged victim, the worker may not examine a child who is not an alleged victim unless the worker has information that indicates the child may be a victim. See Item 2243.4, Interviews with Other Adults; Item 2244, Interviews with Collateral Sources; and Item 2242, Interviews with Other Children in the Home.

      The following are examples of children not named as alleged victims who may be a victim:

  •  The child has an "unknown" role.

  •  The reporter did not know the child was in the home and the child appears vulnerable.

  •  A child not alleged to be a victim has an observable injury.

  •  A child not alleged to be a victim states or implies that the parent mistreats them.

  •  An interviewee states or implies that another child may have been abused or neglected, etc.

In a preliminary investigation of an anonymous report, the worker may but is not required to conduct a criminal background check on the alleged perpetrator.

After taking the steps above that are appropriate to the case, the worker must make a final conclusion about the report.

Conclusion that Corroborating Evidence of the Report was Obtained

If the worker determines there is some corroborating evidence of the report or of abuse or neglect of another child in the home or family, the worker must move into conducting a thorough investigation as described in Item 2224.1, Thorough Investigations.

Conclusion that Corroborating Evidence of the Report Was not Obtained

The worker may recommend that the investigation be administratively closed because the information that was obtained:

  •  refutes the report or fails to corroborate the report; and

  •  provides sufficient information to determine that:

  •  the child appears safe, and

  •  no significant indicators of uncontrolled risk of future abuse or neglect in the family appear to exist.

Risk and Services. In this instance, the worker is not required to complete a risk and safety assessment but may provide the reporter or family with information the family may need to obtain community services.

Safety. The worker must immediately notify the police if there are indications that any child in the home may not be safe in the reported situation because of circumstances other than abuse or neglect.

Completing Preliminary Investigations of Anonymous Reports

When the worker completes the preliminary investigation and recommends administrative closure of the anonymous report, he or she must:

  •  make a reasonable effort to notify the appropriate parties of the report, interviews, and examinations of children within 24 hours of the interview, if the child was interviewed or examined during the preliminary investigation. See Item 2261, Notice of Report: Allegations, Interviews, and Examinations;

  •  finalize the allegations (with the disposition of "administrative closure"). See Item 2271, Definitions of the Dispositions of Abuse or Neglect; Item 2284.12, Completing the Maintain Allegation Task; and Appendix 2224-B, Dispositions and Risk Findings Appropriate to the Types of Investigations;

  •  document the investigation by:

  •  ensuring that "person" information is correct. See Item 2281.1, Completing the Maintain Person Task.

  •  documenting the actions taken and decisions made in the preliminary investigation in the structured narrative and complete other required documentation. See Item 2284.14, Completing the Intranet Risk Assessment Narrative Task;

  •  document the risk finding of "risk assessment not applicable" and the Recommended Action of "Preliminary Investigation of Anonymous Report." See Item 2284.22, Documenting Risk Finding of "Risk Assessment Not Applicable" and Appendix 2224-B, Dispositions and Risk Findings Appropriate to the Types of Investigations;

  •  notify the appropriate parties that the investigation was administratively closed within 24 hours after investigation closure. Item 2273.12, Notification in Administratively Closed Investigations.

 

http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/handbooks/CPS/Files/CPS_pg_2224_4.asp